Chicago Antiques Guide

The Chicago Antiques Guide Blog

Still Life Painting from Marshall Fields

Posted Sunday, January 01 by Brian

I have attached 3 photos of an oil painting I purchased at a yard sale. I wonder if you would have any info about it such as approx. age etc. The photo with the name George Seeler and Marshall Field's is on the back and the other photo is of the signature. Any info you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
Lynn G
painting still life.jpg
Lynn, this is a perfect example of the difficulty in evaluating paintings and other art. The most significant factor in determining value is the artist who did the piece. Use of initials, monograms and frequently illegible signatures makes the task of identifying the artist either difficult, or in many cases impossible. I do not claim to be an art expert. I do have one of several available books on artist's signatures and monograms. All of the books are expensive, usually selling between $100 and $200 per book. To have all of them would cost thousands of dollars.
field's label.jpgrmms sig.jpg
I was not able to find any information about a George Seeler. Most likely, this is the name of a former owner. The " RM.MS." does not appear in the one signature book that I have access to. There are some indecipherable letters under the initials and "79".

Here are some random thoughts on the "signature". Some artists do have four intials and sign their work that way. The periods after the RM and the MS are a little puzzling. This could be an affectation by the artist. However artists also sometimes put the initials of societies that they belong to after there own initials. AWS for American Watercolor Society, for example. MS does not bring any artistic society immediately to mind. Artists sometimes put with their signatures, the city where they work, or the place where the piece was painted. This could explain the indecipherable letters. It appears to have "79" (if indeed that is what it says) after the letters. This could be the year that it was painted, also a common practice. The age of the canvas and stretcher bars if present might help with determing the century, along with many other visual clues.

Marshall Fields did have an art department. I'm not sure if they had a framing service. Paintings that I have had with Marshall Fields' labels and legible signatures included competent professional artists but generally not particularly expensive or reknowned ones.

At the bottom of the label it reads "54-06-02 FORM 65". This is not foolproof, but many companies put a date code on their forms to keep track of which forms are current, and how frequently they are ordered. This could be a date code for June 2, 1954. If so the painting could have been reframed for George Seeler in the mid to late 1950's. Or the painting could have been bought by Fields, and was then framed or reframed for resale.

Without knowing the artist, putting a value on it is very risky. Even if it is just a painting by an amateur who had it framed at Fields, it still has what I call "pretty picture value". The amount someone is willing to pay because it they like the picture and it is a one of a kind painting. If the size is in the 16x20 to 20x24 inch range, it might sell in the $200-$300 price range. If the artist could be determined, it may increase the value slightly or a lot, depending on the artist.

Leave a comment

Weblog Archives